A few weeks back on December 19th, I had the pleasure of attending an event known as Gamepad! hosted by creative company mayamada. I was introduced to one of the founders (Nigel Twumasi) through a mutual friend, and after hearing the creative things that Nigel was doing with this fully independent company I knew I had to meet up with him and see the event in person. mayamada has produced their own line of manga styled comics, an anime inspired clothing line, their own stationary and they now throw their own gaming events.
As I observed the Gamepad! event in person, I was amazed at the level of engagement from the attendees. There was a Super Smash Bros. tournament with a Lucario amiibo up for grabs, and the level of competition in the game was intense. I didn’t dare enter myself, as I would only end up embarrassing myself, but the event allowed me to witness a level of community in gaming that I’ve rarely experience in the United Kingdom, and I can see mayamada ushering in a new revolution of gaming meetups.
I decided to interview Nigel himself to learn more about what mayamada does and show how their creativity is something that is needed in the UK.
Firstly can you tell us a little about yourself and your gaming background?
Nigel Twumasi: I’m an engineer turned entrepreneur and co-founder of mayamada, a brand set in our own universe of characters and stories.
I’ve been into gaming from a young age, the NES and Master System were my first consoles and I spent lots of time playing Mario, Double Dragon, Alex Kidd, Duck Hunt and Operation Wolf.
I also got a Gameboy somewhere along the line and also got through a lot of Super Mario Land, Tetris and Zelda. Oh and Wario Land too, almost forgot that one!
As I got older, I started playing PC games a lot more than consoles and got into that whole PC versus consoles debate too. Getting the latest graphics card and making sure my drivers were up to date, it was a lot of work looking back.
Eventually I made my way back to console games with the Nintendo DS, Wii, Xbox 360 and now PS4.
What are your gaming preferences in terms of genre and console?
NT: My favourite games tend to be real time action Role-playing games. I’ve always liked taking on a character and working through their story as part of an epic narrative.
As for consoles, I’ve owned more Nintendo ones than any other so I guess I have a preference for them. I’ve always liked that they do things differently, their games are strong and genuinely creative and fun.
Being different is so important to move the gaming industry forward. Whether you like Nintendo or not, if everyone was doing the exact same thing all the time gaming would quickly get very boring.
Rank your top 5 video games of all time.
NT: A lot of my favourite games are relatively old and classic, but here goes…
1) Deus Ex (PC)
2) Mass Effect 2 (Xbox 360)
3) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC)
4) Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
5) Portal (PC)
With honorable mentions to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Half Life 2, Mirror’s Edge and Golden Eye.
What is Mayamada?
NT: mayamada is a creative brand set in our own universe of anthropomorphic characters.
The concept is that mayamada is a television network, and we create manga-style comics to tell the story of each show.
For example, our first comic Samurai Chef is the story of a cooking show where the Chef judges dishes with his samurai sword. Then the food is turned into monsters and start to fight back…it escalates quickly from there!
We released the first part of our second show Serious in 2015 and will be introducing our third show Hot Lunch in February 2016. A lot more comics are coming this year too.
Alongside the comics we produce other types of products like cool casual clothing, stationery and even our own chocolate.
You do quite a lot with the mayamada brand, what made you get into creating manga’s, clothing and gaming events?
NT: My co-founder Lao and I have always been into creating characters and stories; we just put that together and created our own universe full of them!
It seemed a natural fit to start a business that allowed us to make use of our imaginations in the form of characters and comics. We believe in the power of creativity and want to build our own business that inspires and encourages creativity in others too.
We also want to create a community around our brand. We had been to a lot of conventions and seen the enthusiasm for comics, Japanese culture and gaming. The idea for our own gaming event was inspired by those enthusiastic people.
Tell us about your GamePad! events and how it came around.
NT: In 2013 we put on a Frozen Yogurt Party in London. We hired out a frozen yogurt shop called Tutti Frutti and had two floors of gaming, Giant Jenga, comics, live music, and of course frozen yogurt.
We wanted to do it again so we came up with the idea for a regular gaming event in a similar style.
We also felt that same room multiplayer has been lost over console generations with more emphasis on online play.
Being social and playing others in the same room is its own experience too and shouldn’t be forgotten. So we decided to do something about it and created our own event to bring people together for a fun time in the real world and called it “GamePad!”.
What are your long-term goals for mayamada?
NT: Our goal is to establish mayamada as a character brand that’s known around the world. This year we’ll have a lot more comics and we’re now thinking about animation.
Turning the mayamada stories into fully fledged animated series has always been a long term goal for us. As well as animation we also want to have our own shops. Not any old shop but creative spaces where people can visit and experience the mayamada brand in full.
We also want to continue taking the brand around the world. Conventions are a great way to do that. We exhibited at the Japan Expo in France last year so expect to see us abroad more often in 2016 and beyond!
Have you ever thought about producing your own video game?
NT: Absolutely! Video games are definitely on the list of directions we want to take the mayamada brand.
We already have some ideas for games but it’s just a case of timing as to when we can start working on them. But stay tuned because mayamada video games will be a reality one day.
In the United States e-sports is a huge thing now, do you think there is a serious lack of competitive gaming and tournaments in the UK?
NT: It’s true there’s not the same level of exposure for e-sports in this country but that will change over time. Speaking with my business hat on there is money in gaming and gaming audiences so it will happen once people in charge of these things realise there is a British interest for it.
America have always been more willing to take risks in new industries, especially when there’s money to be made! But I’ve got no doubt it will continue to grow in the UK. We already seen the BBC cover the 2015 League of Legends World Championship in Wembley. That kind of exposure will continue to grow e-sports in this country.